Grass fire blackens land northwest of Calgary

Grass fire blackens land northwest of Calgary

22 March 2008

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Calgary, Canada — Several residents of a community northwest of Calgary were evacuated Saturday afternoon as a massive grass fire swept across their properties.

Fire crews from Calgary, the municipal district of Rocky View, Cochrane and Redwood Meadows, as well as a helicopter from the provincial forestry department, battled the fast-moving blaze that blackened a large swath of land.

Jim Pendergast, acting deputy fire chief for the M.D. of Rocky View, said the fire spread more than a kilometre through Springbank Heights and a neighbouring community and threatened a number of homes, although none were damaged.

Several people had to leave their homes, and one person was suffering from smoke inhalation, but no one was seriously injured, he said.

But sheds, barns, vehicles and trailers that were in the path of the fire were destroyed, Mr. Pendergast said.

The fire was brought under control in several hours.

Mr. Pendergast said preliminary investigation suggests the fire started at the side of a road possibly by a discarded cigarette.

“So we need people to understand how dry it is. That’s why we have a fire ban,” he said of the ban which has been in effect since March 12.

Springbank Heights resident Irvin Proppe, 75, who has lived in the area for 30 years, said he wasn’t home when the blaze hit his property, but he could see smoke from the Trans-Canada Highway on his way home.

“We didn’t lose the house, so that’s okay,” he said, adding his son lost a vehicle in the fire.

His wife, Martha Proppe, told CTV Calgary someone knocked on her door to tell her about the fire.

“When I looked out of the door, the fire was right by the road there. … It [the fire] was going fast and all I grabbed was my purse and my two dogs.”

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